Feathered Quill Book ReviewsP.O. Box 304Goshen, MA 01032Phone: 413-268-3461 Fax: firstname.lastname@example.orgIn Theda Bara's TentBy: Diana AltmanPublisher: Tapley Cove PressPublication Date: September 2010ISBN: 978-0615343273Reviewed by: Eloise MichaelReview Date: October 25, 2010
In Theda Bara's Tent
begins on a sidewalk in New York City where the main character,Harry Sirkus, witnesses a fire that kills both of his parents. In a scene that will remindreaders of the 1911 fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, workers, mostly youngwomen, jump from the burning building.I was immediately wrapped up in Harry's story. The book is written in the first person,and author, Diana Altman assumes Harry's perspective flawlessly. The first part of thestory is told, convincingly, by a child. We are not allowed any more information than achild would have about the deaths of Harry's parents or about the characters, places, andevents that follow. Altman's ability to get inside Harry's head allows us to do the same.Harry is honest, kind, and intelligent. Readers will want to identify with him.
In Theda Bara's Tent
was hard to put down. It was also one of those books that stayedwith me throughout the day. Scenes from Harry's life would come into my head likeremembered dreams, and I found myself telling people, “I'm reading this book...”Absorbed as I was in Harry's life, this was one of those times when I was sad to reach theend of the novel. I am still looking around for the next book that will allow me todisappear into another world.Altman brings to life a snapshot of New York City shortly before World War I. As the book progresses readers will become immersed in the culture of the period, seeing itthrough the eyes of Harry Sirkus, the child of Lithuanian Jewish immigrants. Race andclass issues, the politics of World War I, the Spanish Influenza epidemic, the struggle for women's suffrage, and prohibition are pieces of the vivid historical backdrop to Harry'scoming of age.Harry discovers early that he is interested in film, and this passion drives him throughoutthe book. He finds ways to work in the industry, beginning by sweeping the floors of atheater and then working his way up. Harry's intelligence, courage, and good luck keephim safe, clothed, and fed, affording him the opportunity not only to work, but to work in